Sunday, September 22, 2013

Prompt: A rose by any other name

Hazel pulled the last of the cucumber from their vines and turned around to sit on the edge of the raised vegetable garden bed. She arched her back and pulled of the floppy hat she wore, despite endless teasing from the girls. She watched the girl walking up the long driveway while she brushed the hair from her face and pulled it into a loose braid.

Even after all these years, she had to bite her tongue to keep from calling out a welcome. More than one girl had bolted back down the drive, as if she had issued a challenge instead. No matter how far they’d come or how hard the road had been, they had to take the very last steps themselves.

The girl finally reached her, and without a word, Hazel handed her a cold bottle of water. She bobbed her head in thanks and drank it greedily. Hazel sipped hers and gave the girl a chance to look around. She wore a purple long-sleeved tee with silver swirls glinting in the sun. Her jeans had seen better days, and her shoes wouldn’t carry her much farther. It was hard to tell if the smudges on her face were dirt or old bruises. Possibly both.

The girl finished her water and looked around the house and down at the vegetable garden, anywhere but Hazel. Finally, she looked down at her feet and mumbled, “My name’s—”

“Hold on, honey,” Hazel said gently, reaching out a hand, palm up. “Someday you might choose to tell me your story, but that’s not why you’re here now.”

The girl looked up with surprise, and Hazel smiled, resting both her hands on her knees in a deliberately relaxed pose. She didn’t want to startle the girl into flight before she had a chance to feel safe.

“This is a safe place for you as long as you want to stay here and live with us,” Hazel offered up front. “We have rules, and we stick to them, but they’re fair, and we treat each other with respect and friendship.” She stopped and waited for the girl’s response. A quick nod was enough.

“I don’t want to know your real name, if anyone comes asking. Hmm, you like purple?” The girl nodded again. “How about ‘Violet’? It suits you, I think.” A small smile, reward enough.

Hazel stood and pulled her hat on her head. “Well, Violet. One thing we do here is shake hands and say hello.” She held out her hand and waited. Violet hesitated, then reached out her hand and shook with a firm grip. “Hello, my name is Hazel. Welcome to the Lazy Perro.” Violet grinned and Hazel laughed. “Wait till you see the dogs, and you’ll understand. Come on, grab a basket, will you, and come with me up to the kitchen.”

Violet reached down for one of the big-handled baskets, full of cucumbers and bright yellow squash. Leaning down for the other basket, Hazel saw the rope burns on her wrists. She straightened without comment, lips tightening in fury. Safe indeed.

She nodded to Violet. “This way. The kitchen’s around to the right. Today, you can help me make lunch.” The girl nodded again.

Hazel gave her a small smile. “Not much of a talker, are you?” Violet shrugged. “It’s okay. There are girls here who will talk plenty for both of you.” At the alarm on the girl’s face, she smiled again. “Don’t worry, I won’t throw you in to them just yet. After lunch, you can help me with pickling. These are the last of the cukes,” she held up her basket, and laughed aloud Violet’s wide-eyed expression.

“You’re gonna like it here, honey. Look, here come Lily, Daisy and Iris to meet us.” At Violet’s raised eyebrows, Hazel grinned sheepishly. “I like flower names. What can I say? A rose by any other name—”

“Would still be red!”
The three approaching girls chorused together, laughing. One took Hazel’s basket, another took Violet’s. They smiled at her encouragingly.

“Come on, we’ll show you around!” They took a few running steps. Violet glanced at Hazel, who nodded, and she took off after them.

Hazel slowed her pace, giving them time to start making friends. She smiled and recited under her breath:

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet…
I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;

“Welcome home, love, welcome home.”

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
~45 minutes

September word count:

No comments:

Post a Comment